A pic from Palin's hijacked Yahoo! email

Flattering image of America’s “next” veep, huh?

You must have heard about it over the weekend: An “Anonymous” hacker (now known, or suspected to be University of Tennessee student David Kernell, son of representative Mike Kernell, D-TN) gained access to Palin’s Yahoo! email account and posted screencaps of her inbox, emails, etc. to 4chan. Those pics have since been removed, and Palin’s Yahoo email has been deleted, but you can still get a lookee at the booty on Gawker or download a zip from WikiLeaks. Even now, there are still events unfolding around the hack, along with some “collateral damage.”


How the hack went down. Whether one can call this an actual “hack” may be questioned. In actuality, the “hack” was not much more than gaming Yahoo’s password recovery:

after the password recovery was reenabled, it took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info, Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)

the second was somewhat harder, the question was “where did you meet your spouse?” did some research, and apparently she had eloped with mister palin after college, if youll look on some of the screenshits [sic] that I took and other fellow anon have so graciously put on photobucket you will see the google search for “palin eloped” or some such in one of the tabs.

I found out later though more research that they met at high school, so I did variations of that, high, high school, eventually hit on “Wasilla high” I promptly changed the password to popcorn and took a cold shower…

That’s it. No buffer overflows, no stealth virus bombardment, no password cracking, not even any social engineering. Just some basic Google research to find answers that only Palin herself should know.

David kernell, Suspected Email Hacker

Is this the 7337 hax0r who raided Palin’s Yahoo account?

Was it worth the effort? After looking at what was posted, there’s really nothing earth-shattering to behold; It’s just basic family-and-business yakking. Hardly worth the effort, right? Obviously, idle chatter was not what the hacker was looking for. He must have been looking for some dirt regarding Palin’s Troopergate scandal, only to leave with the screenshots to prove he was there.

The FBI was able to trace the hack through a proxy that was used, and got a search warrant (yes, the FBI actually bothered to get a warrant!) to search Kernell’s apartment. Today (September 23, 2008), a grand jury convened to examine the evidence, but no indictment was made as yet. There may be future sessions to hear more evidence if it becomes available.

Bill “Mouth O’ Crap” O’Rilley

One good hack deserves another.

Collateral Damage. Fox News windbag William “ORLY?” O’Rilley mouthed off about the screenshot postings, referring to the act as “trafficking in stolen merchandise” and “despicable, slimy, scummy.”

His website was hacked shortly afterwords and posted to WikiLeaks. Memo to all NeoCons: DO NOT DIS HACKERS. THEY WILL PWN ALL YOUR ASS.


Big Brother Goes Both Ways. (Not like that!) Anthony Taurus perhaps put it best in his blog, The United States of Anthony, on why hackers are more important today than ever before:

We live in a true Matrix and we’ve got to be able to fight back digitally. We, the people, need hackers as the government has hackers and as corporations have hackers that can be, will be, and have been used against us. This hacking lets me know that not even government officials are safe from the system they’ve developed. There is always someone out there watching and listening. And, those kinds of individuals exist on both teams.

There’s also a comment posted by “Anonymous” (no relation to the Palin hacker, maybe) that points out the difference between real hackers and the Palin hacker.

As always, stay tuned as more (leaked) data becomes available…


UPDATE 08-Oct-08: Wired reports that David Kernell has turned himself in after being officially indicted for the access. He was released without bond and is waiting trial set for December 16.

Meanwhile, Palin is said to have another email system setup outside official channels. The system was setup for her run for Alaska’s governor, but has been shut down since the Yahoo account breach. It is believed the system may have been used like the Yahoo account was; To bypass official channels and possibly hide evidence of ethics violations.

This post has been filed under HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

September 13, 2008


Book Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2003-2004 (?)

Arthur: Marshall Brain

Category: Online Cyberpunk Books


Marshall Brain

‘How Stuff Works,’ Cyberpunk edition. Perhaps better known for his “How Stuff Works” website, Mr. Marshall Brain has since started his own site with some essays and stories. Out of curiosity, I did a search for “cyberpunk” on HowStuffWorks.com and they returned an article on “How Hackers Work,” so he/they seem to have an idea about cyberpunk. Manna also reflects this.


Synopsis. The story is told first-person by Jacob Lewis105, a burger-flipper at Burger-G when, on May 17, 2010, the end began. A simple PC in a back corner of the Burger-G had software installed on it called “Manna” (as in manage) that could micro-manage the workers via voice synthesis through headsets. Before long, other businesses replaced managers with Manna and clones. Eventually, this lead to a two-tiered society of the uber-rich execs and the minimum-wage slaves… until robotic technology advanced to the point where the slavers are no longer required, and a good portion of the human population ended up in unemployment tenement “projects.”


Short, but sweet. Brain’s story is surprisingly good, but the ending did leave me wanting more. I wanted to see if the Manna-net would try to take over the paradise Jacob finds. But for eight “chapters” of 2-3 pages each, it is a good, easy read. If only it was in PDF or some e-text form…

This post has been filed under Internet Find, Cyberpunk Books by Mr. Roboto.

Sources: ZDNet, ICT Results, PHRIENDS Consortium website


No, don’t go singing that Rembrants song! We’re not talking about the TV show, but a European project consortium. One with a rather ambitious goal: To get robots to observe and obey Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.

From the PHRIENDS website, project page:

The European Machine Directive 98/37/EC states that all appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure that machinery or safety components may be placed on the market and put into service only if they do no endanger the health or safety of persons and, where appropriate, domestic animals or property.

This directive is the basic impetus behind the PHRIENDS project to make “safer” robots for human-robot interaction. The three-year project is due to end September 30, 2009, and they hope robots will be safe enough for humans by then. Exactly how do they plan to do this? Develop the technology:

From the Objectives page

A) new actuator concepts and prototypes;
B) new dependable algorithms for supervision and planning;
C) new control algorithms for handling safe human-robot physical interaction and for fault tolerant behaviour.

Furthermore, PHRIENDS will
D) integrate these components in functionally meaningful subsystems;
E) evaluate quantitatively components and subsystems via experimental testing;
F) contribute to the ongoing effort of international bodies towards the establishment of new standards for collaborative human-robot operation.

So, where’s the Three Laws? It appears the the forced programming of the Three Laws is not in the plans… yet. Although (B) and (C) could be used as reasons for such programming.

If this project does succeed, will it keep potential SkyNets, SHODANs, and HALs from being created? And what will this do to America’s bot-crazed military programs?


Then again, if humans have to work around bots like this 700 ton earth-mover or this self-steering (maybe self-driving?) bus, one had better hope they are “Three Laws safe.”

This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Sources: Wired’s Beyond the Beyond, io9, Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

Abstract from SSRN:

This article builds upon my previous work (Wall, 2007 & 2008) to map out the conceptual origins of cybercrime in social science fiction and other faction genres to explore the relationship between rhetoric and reality in the production of knowledge about it. The article goes on to illustrate how the reporting of dystopic narratives about life in networked worlds shapes public reactions to technological change. Reactions which heighten the culture of fear about cybercrime, which in turn, shapes public expectations of online risk, the formation of law and the subsequent interpretation of justice. Finally, the article identifies and responds to the various mythologies that are currently circulating about cybercrime, before identifying the various tensions in the production of criminological knowledge about it that contribute to sustaining those mythologies.

Whistler discovers Janek’s secret
Academia strikes again. Professor Wall… maybe it’s Doctor Wall?…. David Wall from Leeds University has published a paper on how the media echo-chamber has turned harmless cyberpunk sci-fi into realtime panic of cybercrimes. It’s not exactly an easy read, unless you’re used to reading and/or writing them. Wall’s conclusion, as io9 puts it, not only is the threat of cybercrime is grossly exaggerated, it’s “social” science fiction, especially cyberpunk, that planted the seeds of this misplaced dread.

There’s probably some elite hackers out there who would disagree with that conclusion. Not only them, but CP legend Bruce Sterling as well:

(((I have to wonder if this British criminal justice professor has ever studied cybercriminals who don’t read scifi novels in English. I mean, we cyberpunks did our best — some of our best sources in the 80s were criminal justice professors — but you could pore through the cyberpunk canon and you’d never find much about today’s giant botnet spam engines.)))

(((I also note the conspicuous absence of HACKER CRACKDOWN from his bibliography. Kinda odd that he would overlook the only nonfiction book about computer crime written by a cyberpunk novelist.)))

(((I guess I can forgive him because he’s quoting Baudrillard. A sure sign that he’s more into semiotics and cultural transgression than he is in the merely factual existence of cybercriminals who are stealing a living from the rest of us every day.)))


Haxploitation, he wrote. Wall uses the term for movies like Sneakers and Hackers; Hollywood’s incestuous amplification of hacker lore to near-biblical mythology, and the sheeple believe the myths to be real.

Perhaps the sheeple needs to read this article. I’d like to find Wall’s other papers on this subject; They may provide some more insight.

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.

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